By KBB.com Editors
Rising gas prices and increasingly crowded roads have turned many car-buyers' eyes toward small cars. BMW would love to cash in on this growing interest, but can it do so without diluting or cheapening the brand's premium image? BMW hopes the 1 Series will prove it can, and is entering the lower levels of the United States' luxury market cautiously, so only the 1 Series Coupe and Convertible will be sold here, even though three and five-door versions are also available in Europe. Those who think BMW's 3 Series has grown too big or expensive can look to the 1 Series as a smaller, more affordable convertible option.
If you think smaller and lighter cars tend to be the most fun, we think you'll like the 2008 BMW 1 Series Convertible. It features a quiet, well insulated top and excellent top-down air-flow management, freeing it from the vices that commonly plague convertibles.
You may not like the BMW 1 Series Convertible if you want both front and rear passengers to be equally comfortable, as the rear seats border on claustrophobic.
Over the years, the entry price of BMW's 3 Series Convertible has swelled to more than $43,000, pushing it out of reach for many buyers. The 1 Series Convertible is nearly $10,000 less expensive, giving more buyers the chance to own a BMW convertible without dipping into their childrens' college funds.
Driving Impressions While many convertibles drive like watered-down versions of their fixed-roof siblings, the 2008 BMW 1 Series Convertible retains most of the sharp handling dynamics found in its Coupe counterpart. Steering...feel is good, offering just the right amount of resistance and precise control of the front wheels. The structure of the 1 Series Convertible feels strong and is generally free of rattles and squeaks when driving over rough pavement. The 230-horsepower engine in the 128i is no slouch, but with 300 horsepower on tap the twin-turbocharged engine in the 135i is the real star. It's the same engine used in the larger, heavier 3 Series and, in the smaller 135i, it delivers great power to pass and a swift zero-to-60-mph time of 5.3 seconds.
Sun Reflective Upholstery
Driving a convertible is fun but also offers its share of inconveniences. For example, on particularly bright and sunny days the interior surfaces of many convertibles retain a lot of heat. The optional Boston leather interior treatment of the 1 Series Convertible features Sun Reflective technology, which virtually eliminates this problem.
The BMW 1 Series Convertible features a three-layer soft top that keeps road and wind noise to near coupe-like levels. Additionally, the power-operated top can be raised or lowered in about 22 seconds and at speeds up to 25 miles per hour.
The 1 Series is the least expensive convertible offered by BMW, but the interior treatment is anything but cheap, featuring high-quality materials and modern style. With the soft top in the raised position the cabin remains impressively quiet and, with the top lowered, airflow around the cabin is nicely controlled. Seating in the 1 Series Convertible is limited to four and, while front-seat passengers enjoy good head and leg room, rear-seat passengers might feel cramped by limited shoulder space. Trunk space is tight but, with clever arrangement, there is enough room for a weekend's worth of luggage.Exterior
Bucking the current trend toward retractable hardtops, BMW has equipped the 1 Series with a fabric top, a decision we support, considering the fabric top's lighter weight and excellent sound insulation. The 1 Series Convertible features a wide, sporty stance that is further accentuated by lowering the convertible top. Adding to the visual impact are a sharply creased shoulder line, signature BMW twin-kidney grille and a spoiler integrated into the trunk lid. The more-powerful 135i sports an aggressive exterior treatment that includes an additional rear spoiler to provide greater downforce at high speeds.
Among the standard features offered on the BMW 1 Series Convertible are automatic climate control, power windows with one-touch up-and-down function, power-retractable soft top, rain-sensing windshield wipers, cruise control and a 10-speaker audio system with auxiliary input for MP3 players. In terms of safety, the 1 Series includes standard front and front-side airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction controls and active roll bars that automatically deploy in the event of a vehicle roll-over.
Many of the available options are divided into packages. The Cold Weather Package includes heated front seats and a ski bag with pass-through from the trunk to the cabin. The Premium Package features power front seats with memory, auto-dimming mirrors, leather seating and an interior lighting package. The Sport Package increases the speed setting of the top speed limiter and adds sport seats plus other racy details. Stand-alone options include a navigation system, xenon headlights, HD radio, satellite radio and BMW's Active Steering system.
Most buyers will find the 230-horsepower in-line six-cylinder engine powering the 128i to be perfectly acceptable. Those who want even more performance can choose the 135i and its twin-turbocharged engine, which produces 300 horsepower, enabling acceleration from zero to 60 miles per hour in a little more than five seconds. Both models feature a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic.
3.0-liter in-line 6
230 horsepower at 6500 rpm
200 lb.-ft. of torque at 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/27 (automatic), 18/28 (manual)
3.0-liter in-line 6 Turbocharged
300 horsepower at 5800 rpm
300 lb.-ft. of torque at 1400-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26 (automatic), 17/26 (manual)
By tomsbob on Friday, February 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Discreet, small, super quick."
Cons: "Funny looking from front. Small rear seat."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I am writing this review because I am about to trade it in for an M3. I think I miss it already. The acceleration and balance are outstanding. I drive this car 12 months a year in Minnesota in all weathers and I have never had issues. You do need snow tires in winter in snowy climes. I have driven 3 and 5 series and they just feel loose and sloppy. The 135i is the tightest feeling car you can drive. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a discreet, non "look at me" type of vehicle that can chew and spit out any fat muscle car. Still can't believe I am going to lose her."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By jackie on Wednesday, February 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive"
Cons: "poor reliability costs both time and money"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I have a cashmere silver 128i convertible which I enjoyed a lot during sunny days in California. It's very sleek especially with top down however the car feels a bit plastic from inside. The car suffers from time to time various sensor/controller problems. First it's some minor issue and then, just right after the warranty expired, bigger problems started to show up. I always admire the superior quality of German engine and transmission, but the electronics for the entry level car seems to be less reliable and reverse the overall reliability. The overall cost to own this car for more than 5 years could be much higher than expected."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Pkaia on Monday, January 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 112,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Forget all of the opinions of BMW - expensive, (repairs), etc. this is a sweet dynamic driving package that, if maintained (a word probably 90% of owners dont understand), will give you a long amount of driving pleasure. I have the base of the base BMW line: 128i, manual trnasmission, no options except sunroof. Yet it is a pleasure to drive (not text, not phone, etc). If you are one of the minority of people who actually enjoy driving, seriously consider this car. I get 30mpg on the highway, have fun on the twisties, etc. No mechanical/repair issues whatsoever. But i maintain the car myself, change the oil at half the BMW recommended interval, chnge the "lifetime" fluids every 30K, etc. If you want to "own"" and "drive" a car, consider this one. The reliability of a Toyota/Honda but with BMW dynamics. This is a sporty coupe that will not win every stoplight war, not keep up with the Porsches in the curves. But a RWD NA six cylinder with good dynamics for $10K? Try and find another like it."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Ken on Tuesday, October 22, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,143overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "The fun factor"
Cons: "To some the fact I get around 25 mpg avg."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car is so fun to go out for a drive in. I had gotten to the point I hated driving, but this car changed that. I am having to much fun in it for the stupid drivers to even bother me. It is not going to blow the doors off a full fledged sports car. It will give you that sports cars fun with the comfort of BMW. I plan on owning this cars for many more years!"
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Norman on Saturday, October 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles well"
Cons: "Service requests"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This car needs more maintenance that a high school girl with a crush. Every time I open my email I another email from the dealership telling me the car needs to come in for service. While they explain to me it's routine, they don't have any respect for my time, and it's a royal pain. The dealership sells me, "don't you want your car to be well maintained, it's a free service." Having had over forty vehicles before this one, I'm not accustomed to weekly visits to the dealership. The dealership (Chapman) BMW sold me a 'certified' used BMW, claiming the car had been gone over from the top of the antenna, to the bottom of the tires, from the front bumper to the rear. Well, one alternator, one oil leak, and three days of lost service in the first four months, has taught me I'll never own another BMW. My time is far more valuable and their respect for my time isn't important enough for this headache."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By durhamnative on Monday, August 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "great engine, ride, handling"
Cons: "lacking in the quality of the vehicle"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"Purchased my 2009 128i new with the premium package and Navigation in December 2010. Traded a 6 year old Audi TT that was starting to give problems. The 128i has excellent power, a super smooth inline 6 and has a nice balance of ride/handling. Reliability has not been great. There have been 6 trips to the dealer for power window problems, 2 trips for the third brake light lens falling off, 2 trips for the power steering gear puking fluid all over the garage and finally the leather seat stitching on the rear seats has failed even though no one has ever sat on them. All this on a car with just over 25,000 miles that is garage kept and well maintained. I love the way it drives, but just not happy with the repairs, my warranty runs out in December and I will probably be trading this Bimmer in and it will probably be for a 2014 Honda Accord Coupe EX-L V6, not another BMW."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful